Volkswagen To Beef Up Dealer Network, Model Lineup in U.S. | Edmunds

Volkswagen To Beef Up Dealer Network, Model Lineup in U.S.

DETROIT Volkswagen of America plans to add about 100 dealers during the next five years in an effort to boost U.S. sales.

The announcement comes as the automaker prepares a product blitz that includes three redesigned models and the addition of the brand's first seven-passenger, midsize SUV crossover. The SUV was previewed at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in the form of the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE.

Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn said, "The network expansion will take place in (geographic) areas where we are not represented and will be designed to underpin VW's forthcoming SUV offensive."

The specific regions were not revealed.

The expansion will boost VW's U.S. dealer network to about 750, a 15 percent increase over today's level. The added dealerships will attempt to turn around the automaker's U.S. sales, which have decreased in each of the past two years. Sales totaled about 367,000 vehicles in 2014, a 10 percent drop from the previous year. Several years ago Volkswagen announced an aggressive 800,000 U.S. sales target by 2018.

The German automaker is developing a product blitz over the next three years aimed at wooing more U.S. buyers. Each of the redesigns includes a longer list of standard equipment and features sought by U.S. buyers, VW has previously said.

The seven-passenger SUV crossover will enter production in late 2016 and target such vehicles as the Ford Explorer and Hyundai Santa Fe. VW has missed sales opportunities as many buyers abandoned minivans and sedans during the past decade for seven-passenger SUV crossovers. The Volkswagen Tiguan and Touareg each seat five. VW has not released the new vehicle's name.

The Tiguan, Volkswagen's smallest crossover SUV, is scheduled for a redesign in 2017. The vehicle's wheelbase will be stretched to enhance passenger comfort.

Volkswagen also will redesign its two core models, the Jetta and Passat, its No. 1 and No. 2 selling vehicles in the United States, respectively. The Jetta is slated for a late 2017 redesign, followed several months later by the Passat.

The redesigned 2015 Golf was introduced late last year. This week the car was named 2015 North American Car of the Year by a panel of U.S. and Canadian journalists.

Edmunds says: A fresh product line and a larger dealer network will be a bonus for car shoppers who have Volkswagen on their lists.

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